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Professor receives DOD grant for nanotechnology research

Hao Yan
Hao Yan

A chemistry and biochemistry professor received a $6.25 million grant from the Department of Defense's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program to further research in nanotechnology.

Professor Hao Yan will collaborate with a team of faculty members to research how DNA can be used to make microelectronic devices that can convert living or formerly living things, like garbage and dead trees, to energy.

Yan said the DOD grant will aid him in making his scientific discoveries in nanotechnology useful in the real world.

"It's very important to realize that what we do in scientific discovery needs to lead to application," Yan said. "Eventually we would like to use (our research) to engineer a useful device for biomass conversion or energy conversion."

He said his research reflects the DOD's mission to utilize fundamental scientific discoveries for public purpose.

The MURI program received 251 initial research pitches followed by 78 proposals. Yan's project is one of 23 others nationwide that received a grant to lead a research project. The $155 million total MURI award will be distributed among the 23 projects for five years.

Knowledge Enterprise Development Associate Vice President William Petuskey, former chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said Yan quickly developed a strong nanoscience research program and created effective collaborative ties with other faculty members in the time he has been at ASU.

"He has one of the strongest programs in nanoscience in the country," Petuskey said. "He's in demand around the world to talk about the science he's been pioneering."

Petuskey said ASU's connection with the DOD is important to furthering the University's research programs.

He said Yan has been an example to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in his personal collaborations and extensive scientific research.

"This grant from the department of defense is one more recognition of the excellence (Yan) has displayed in his own research," Petuskey said. "ASU ... has among the best scientists in the world working on important problems."

He said research projects like Yan's provide students with opportunities to learn how research is done and encourage them to create new ideas.

Petuskey said ASU's work with the DOD addresses critical issues for U.S. security.

University President Michael Crow said in a July 3 news release that ASU's ability to compete with some of the nation's best researchers is indicative of Yan's ability to collaborate and innovate with his research team.

“His breakneck speed in developing new technologies may spark entirely new solutions in biomedicine and energy research,” Crow said.

 

Reach the reporter at dgrobmei@asu.edu

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